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Obama says Zimbabwe has opportunity, needs free and fair poll | Sun Jun 30, 2013 7:04pm BST

(Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Sunday Zimbabwe's economic
recovery gave the southern African country an opportunity to advance but
only if upcoming elections were "free and fair."

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, at 89 Africa's oldest leader, is seeking
to extend his three-decade rule in elections scheduled for July 31. The
opposition wants to delay the poll to allow reforms designed to prevent a
repeat of the bloodshed that marred the 2008 election.

"Zimbabweans have a new constitution. The economy is beginning to recover.
So there is an opportunity to move forward," Obama said in a televised
speech at the University of Cape Town during his three-nation Africa visit."But only if there is an election that is free and fair and peaceful so that
Zimbabweans can determine their future without fear of intimidation and
retribution," Obama said.

Mugabe, in power since 1980, has been accused by critics of rigging
elections and driving the economy into near ruin by scaring off investors
with polices such as the seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to
landless blacks.

After a decade of contraction which saw the domestic currency rendered
worthless by hyper-inflation, the economy has been growing again, in part
because Zimbabwe has dumped its own dollar in favour of the U.S. dollar.

Obama said in Zimbabwe, "the promise of liberation gave way to the
corruption of power and then the collapse of the economy."

Obama is visiting Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania on his African trip.

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Mugabe ruling by decree 20:14Harare - President Robert Mugabe has become Zimbabwe's sole law-making
authority until the next elections are held following the automatic
dissolution of parliament, his justice minister told state media on Sunday.

The country's legislature was dissolved on Saturday after completing its
five-year term.

According to Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa this left veteran leader
Mugabe as the only law-making power until new elections, for which no clear
date has been set yet.

"There is no authority with the power to make legislation except the
president," the Sunday Mail newspaper quoted Chinamasa as saying.

"The executive will be left legally limping because it needs the legislature
for it to be fully functional," he added.

Mugabe and his long-time rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai disagree
over the date for upcoming polls that would end their power-sharing

Mugabe unilaterally proclaimed 31 July for a presidential and parliamentary
vote, but mediators have since pressured him to apply for a two-week delay.

Tsvangirai has filed an appeal, arguing that the proposed delay was too
short to implement key reforms in media and the security forces.

This will be the longest time since 1980 independence that the country is
run under presidential decree after the dissolution of parliament, according
to Chinamasa.

"Normally parliament is dissolved the midnight before elections," he said.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed a power-sharing government four years ago to
pull the country back from the brink of conflict.

New elections were due 18 months after the formation of the government, but
disagreements over the reforms have derailed the vote preparations.


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SA wants month-long poll delay: Zulu 00:00:00
     by Staff Reporter
SOUTH Africa wants Zimbabwe to postpone elections by at least a month from
to allow time for the government to implement “basic reforms” to ensure free
and fair elections, a senior official said.

President Robert Mugabe had declared the elections would be held on July31,
complying with a Constitutional Court ruling ordering the polls to be held
before the end of the month.

But the government has returned to the court to seek a two week delay
following recommendations by the regional SADC grouping.
The court is set to hear the case, filed by Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa along with other applications by the MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai
and Welshman Ncube, on Thursday.

An advisor to South African President Jacob Zuma, who has led the regional
grouping’s mediation effort in Zimbabwe, said SADC hoped the court would
grant a longer delay.

“(We are) hoping the court will be sensitive to the process of the
resolution of some of the tensions in the build-up to elections,” said
Lindiwe Zulu, a member of SADC’s facilitation team, told South African media
at the weekend.

“We would hope the court would approve the extension for at least a month
because a lot of the new reforms are mentioned in the new constitution,”
Zulu said.

“Considering that elections are around the corner there must be enough time
to implement at least the basic reforms to prevent a repeat of 2008.”

Mugabe insists that he has no problem with the problem with the court’s July
31 deadline and had already moved to comply with the order.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said he had only filed the appeal for a
two-week delay after being asked by SADC.
However, Tsvangirai insists a longer delay is necessary to allow the
implementations of reforms to ensure credible elections and appears to have
the backing of Zuma and his team.

“Some of the reforms needed before elections can take place are a conducive
environment for electioneering,” Zulu said.
“There must be free political activity where there’s no intimidation and
violence. All political parties even beyond the three who are party to the
global political agreement must have the freedom to run in the elections
without any harassment.”

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Voter registration ‘favours Zanu PF’, parties 00:00:00
     by Staff ReporterTHE on-going voter registration exercise, touted as “successful” by the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has been dismissed by political parties
as “shambolic, partisan and underpinned by a desire to instilling fear into

ZEC has been carrying out a so-called “intensive” exercise to register
voters ahead of fresh elections to replace the coalition government.

But political parties slammed the exercise at meeting held in Harare last
week saying ZEC had presided over a process that would “disenfranchise
thousands of potential voters”.

MDC Representative Kuda Munengiwa said the process is a sham aimed at
handing electoral victory to Zanu PF through deliberately disenfranchising
would-be voters.

He added that mobile registration units said to have been deployed by ZEC
were not visible in the wards and, where they had been established, would
close early regardless of whether they had cleared registering voters or

“It is unfortunate that it seems as if people in this country are afraid of
voters. The purpose of the 30-day mobile registration process as enshrined
in the constitution is to mop up every other voter that has not been
captured by the normal processes of voter registration,” he said.

“The constitution is very clear, it should be a 30-day ward based voter
registration exercise but it has been converted into a district-based

“So what it means is that ZEC people are in a ward for about three days,
they don’t care whether they have registered everyone, or when they closed
the third day they was a queue. They will simply move to the next ward. In
our view this is a way of disenfranchising potential voters.”

The Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn national mobilisation secretary Chenjerai Gwanzura
said his party had also noted a “lot of irregularities” in the conduct of
ZEC adding that the registration process would not achieve its intended
purpose since the electoral body’s officials were acting in a partisan

“We have Zanu PF leaders who are collecting national registration documents
of their members - collecting about a 100 of those documents. They then go
to these mobile registration centres with the ideas to have their members

“What then happens is that those in the queue will wait the whole day. We
have also been to centres where only ten people are served per day. There is
an unofficial declared go-slow by ZEC officials.”

MDC-T Spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora also claimed that his party had
unearthed a number of irregularities the registration exercise, particularly
in the distribution of mobile registration teams.

“Clearly the voter registration exercise is shambolic and partisan; it is
unprofessional, incomplete, and it is premised on a very wrong understanding
of our constitutional law,” he said.

“What is happening is that the Registrar General is subverting the
constitutional provisions to the date of elections. The date of elections is
not a constitutional provision, what is a constitutional provision is the
right of a Zimbabwean to register.

“There is an unofficial declared go slow by ZEC in Harare, why? - because
Harare is seen as the stronghold for MDC-T. Also we have 98 voter
registration centres in Mashonaland central and we had 49 in Manicaland
province. Now, you can’t tell me that Manicaland is half of Mashonaland

Mwonzora said the President’s Mugabe’s proclamation of the nomination date
inside the voter registration period was a deliberate move to disenfranchise
those who register after the 28th of June.

“For you to nominate anyone you must be on the voters roll and for you to be
nominated as a candidate for any position you should also be on the role.
What is then important is what the voters’ roll looks like at the date of

“Now the President has declared 28th of June as the day of nomination but
the voter registration exercise ends on the 10th of July. And if you call a
nomination date on the 28th of June it means that you are disenfranchising
people who are going to register between 28 June and July 10. These people
can neither be nominated as candidates nor nominate anyone.

However, Justice Rita Makarau, who heads to electoral body, said the
exercise had been a “success”.
“Since the last 14 days, 273,319 new voters have been captured. This is in
addition to the 204 000 new voters who were registered during the last
exercise. We are approaching half a million since the two exercises began,”
Makarau told state media at the weekend.

“We at ZEC believe that we have captured the bulk of those requiring
registration, taking into account the dwindling numbers that are appearing
at the registration centres and the shortening queues, especially in rural

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Grace Kwinjeh bounces back CHINOWAITA  •  29 JUNE 2013 9:42PMHARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC says it has offered
disgruntled founding member Grace Kwinjeh one of the six seats reserved for
women in Manicaland province.

Under the proportional representation system, 60 seats in the National
Assembly will be reserved for women, with six seats for each province.

MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said: “Grace Kwinjeh was offered one of
the six seats meant for proportional representation in Manicaland.

These seats were meant for women, we do not know whether she has accepted
the offer.”

He said they looked at seniority in the party, consistency and personal
attributes of the person to be fielded.

“We know that many women are quite capable in the MDC and they can be more
than 60 so if anybody was left behind, that was not because of lack of
qualities,” Mwonzora said.

Kwinjeh, a journalist-cum-politician came out guns blazing when her victory
in the primaries for MDC Makoni Central Constituency a fortnight ago was

“That is what I do not understand, it discredits the whole process,” she

“I do hope the party leadership can resolve that quickly. I have lodged a
complaint with the party leadership. I am waiting to hear from them, in
particular our party president, Morgan Tsvangirai as he is the highest
authority. I think in the case of a dispute he has the authority to decide,”
she told the Daily News.

However, it seems as if Kwinjeh has got some respite.

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MDC- T fields more than one candidate per ward for elections
30.06.13by Sofia Mapuranga

There was confusion at the Nomination Court at Chitungwiza Town Council
yesterday after it emerged that the MDC- T had availed more than one
candidate per Ward for election as councilors in more than nine wards in the
constituency.In the nomination results announced by an official from the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission around 8 pm yesterday, the MDC- T was fielding more
than one candidate to stand under the party’s ticket in Wards 4, 6, 11, 16,
17 and 23 among others.

In Ward 16, two candidates, both from MDC- T, Muchaneta Zemura and Lorraine
Usayiwevhu were up for political office in the forthcoming polls together
with Zanu (PF)’s Tapson Chiramba.

In Ward 17, two MDC- T aspirants, David Rukweza and Gladys Jena also
successfully filed their nomination papers under the party’s ticket.

An MDC- T supporters, Batsirai Simangwa said the confusion arose after the
party’s provincial leadership endorsed the candidature of more than one

He said: “Our provincial leadership signed nomination papers for more than
one candidate. As it is now, we do not know who to campaign for because the
party availed more than one applicant and their names were officially called
out by the ZEC.”

Ward 17’s David Rukweza said in the wards where two candidates had submitted
their papers, the only just and noble thing to do was to have a re- run of
the primary elections.

“My suggestion is that we go back and hold elections as a party and whoever
is beaten, bows out,” he said.

“The challenge is that there are others among those who have put their
papers for political office who want to use the influence of those at the
top to gain political office. Let us be fair and conduct elections,” he

Another party supporter who was at the venue of nomination, Theresa
Kapondoro said failure to handle primary election queries by the party had
the potential to dilute the vote.

She said: "Some of the concerns raised by some of the candidates who have
decided to file their papers as independent candidates are genuine.

"These people did not lose the primaries and they are loved by the people.
They will dilute the vote to the party's disadvantage," she said.

Efforts to get a comment from MDC- T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora or the
party's Organising Secretary, Nelson Chamisa were futile as their mobile
numbers went unanswered.

Zanu (PF) aspiring councilors scoffed at the gross irregularities within the
party and said this exhibited the levels of confusion within the party

"We had our challenges, but the party position has been very clear.
Disgruntled candidates are in this race as independent candidates because we
do want to confuse the electorate," said one aspiring councilor.

Countrywide, the Nomination Courts yesterday took nomination papers for
those aspiring to contest for presidential, senatorial, national house of
assembly and rural and urban council seats in the forthcoming polls

The election body had indicated that 4 pm was going to be the cutting off
time for nomination and ‘late comers were not going to be entertained’,
deferring their participation for political office to 2018.

However, due to the overwhelming number of aspiring councilors, who had
defected from their parties of choice and were standing as independent
candidates, the Nomination Court in Chitungwiza sat until around 8 pm as
candidates rectified errors on their papers to enable them to be in the
running for political office.

So far, 28 political parties are said to be interested in contesting the
harmonised elections, although talk of a grand coalition among the political
parties is rife.

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Zanu PF rigs own election KWARAMBA  •  30 JUNE 2013 8:15AM

HARARE - As  hard as it is to fathom, President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF
rigged its own primary elections, vanquished candidates said, making a
mockery of the democratic process.

The Zanu PF primary elections were messy, what with cardboard boxes and
empty buckets for ballot boxes. But the proportion of rigging which saw
candidates like Auxilia Mnangagwa amassing an unbelievable 17 000 votes in
Kwekwe-Chirumanzu shocked even the staunchest admirers of the ex-majority

The figures were unusually high in most parts of the country, with Newton
Kachepa amassing an incredible 10 165 in Mudzi North against his challenger’s
3 171.

On Tuesday, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa told a weekly that he was not
ruling out electoral malpractice in the poll.

“I don’t want to be cheated, I am wary of that,” he said.

Chinamasa locked horns with his bitter rival Basil Nyabadza and scrapped a
win albeit by less than 20 votes, as the Emmerson Mnangagwa faction made
strides in the province hitherto in the hands of Vice President Joice Mujuru’s

Factionalism aside, heavyweights in the ex-majority party used every trick
in the rigging book to worm back to Parliament, their vanquished opponents

In Zvimba North, Marian Chombo alleged her ex-husband Ignatius Chombo had
engaged in embarrassing electoral fraud. She said on Tuesday her name was
deleted on the ballot paper.

“Chombo stole the elections because he knew he was going to lose,” she said.
“I am going to stand as an independent candidate and wrest that seat from
him,” she vowed.

Chombo, was forced three years ago to cede a significant portion of his
fortune to his first wife Marian in a split-up touted as historically one of
the most expensive divorce settlements in Zimbabwe.

While the actual voting process was fraught with irregularities, the
pre-election period was characterised by violence and intimidation which saw
aspiring candidates like Mashonaland Central governor Martin Dinha opting
out of the race after escaping an assassination attempt.

“Since my entry into the poll race, a handful of provincial members have
joined hands with one of the aspirants RT Matangira to unleash a violent
campaign of hate speech, violence, threats to violence, demonisation and
other heinous acts including busing hooligans to Musana, Masembura and
denying my agents to campaign freely and fairly,” said Dinha in a letter to
provincial chairman Dickson Mafios announcing his decision to pull out from
a race that he described as “flawed, scandalous, hostile and manipulated”.

In a classical display of a vintage Zanu PF, newcomers or pretenders learnt
the hard way how difficult it is to dislodge political giants.

Vote buying is by no means a new phenomenon in the country’s turbulent
political history, but Zanu PF rivals went a step further as they bused
supporters in constituencies such as Mbare where Tendai Savanhu romped to

In Bikita West, gospel musician Elias Musakwa who had been cleared by the
politburo to stand as the party candidate, said he was shocked on Tuesday
when he received news that Munyaradzi Kereke, ex-advisor to Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono was participating in primary elections.

“When I was at a funeral, I was told that Kereke was conducting an election
but I did not trouble myself since the politburo ruled that I would run
uncontested. The politburo chaired by the president endorsed my candidature
unopposed so I am the rightful candidate for Bikita West,” said Musakwa.

Former Copac co-chairperson Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana lost his Chivi Central
seat to trade unionist and sugarcane farmer Ephraim Gwanongodza amid
allegations that the poll had been rigged.

On Friday Mangwana, reeling from the devastating defeat, declined to

Didymus Mutasa, Zanu PF administration secretary said allegations of
electoral malpractice in the internal poll were a “media concoction.”

Zanu PF national chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo could not be reached for

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Mtetwa's case postponed to July 19
30.06.13by Edgar Gweshe

THE trial of top human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, who is facing charges
of obstructing the course of justice, was today postponed to July 19.Today, the trial, held at the Harare Magistrates Court, saw the cross
examination of State witness, Luxon Mukazhi.

On July 19, the trial will continue with the cross examination of Mukazhi as
this could not be finished today due to time constraints as the court closes
at noon.

Magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa presided over the case while the State was
represented by Tawanda Zvekare.

Mtetwa was arrested on March 17 for allegedly obstructing the police from
conducting a search at the house of an aide to the Prime Minster, Morgan
Tsvangirai as well as the premier's private offices in Avondale.

The police were acting on a tip off that four MDC-T officials; Thabani
Mpofu, Warship Dumba, Felix Matsinde and Mehluli Tshuma were unlawfully
compiling criminal dockets in respect of prominent government officials.

Speaking after the trial, Mtetwa's lawyer, Harrison Nkomo expressed optimism
that the case would be given a full week to allow proceedings to move

Initially, Nkomo had raised concern that holding the trial during Saturdays
imposes serious time constraints but the State objected to his proposal.

Today, Nkomo raised the issue in court again and Magistrate Mugwagwa said
the matter would be deliberated on in the next trial.

However, the State had put forward a proposal of the case being heard on
July 28, which would be a Saturday as well.

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Zanup PF line: Their prospects KWARAMBA AND XOLISANI NCUBE  •  30 JUNE 2013 8:04AM

HARARE - It might be a team made in hell lining up to represent President
Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF  in the forthcoming elections, yet the  political
jokers, flip-floppers, recycled wood and security cabal fit neatly into Zanu
PF’s tragic-comic art of politics.

Some like Jonathan Moyo, Philip Chiyangwa and Kindness Paradza, who once
suffered the full wrath of Zanu PF, are now back in the fold anxious for a
comeback on the former ruling party’s ticket.

But who will vote for Moyo this time? What with his sordid history.

After winning as an independent in 2008 he left the rustic life of
Tsholotsho to bask in the trappings of urban life and then rejoined Zanu
PF — stabbing the people who had elected him in the back.

It is unlikely that the serial political flip-flopper will be able to
convince the forgotten lot in Tsholotsho to vote for him yet again.

In the marginalised province of Matabeleland North, Mugabe and Zanu PF are
blamed for the deprivation of the region and it is unlikely that Moyo will
see off Roseline Nkomo, the wife of Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo.

Questions to be answered include; is it bhora mugedhi this time around for
people like Moyo, who is accused by some of plotting the demise of Zanu PF
from within?

Money talks and flamboyant businessman Philip Chiyangwa is back in Chinhoyi
after years in the political wilderness caused by a conviction in 2003 of
espionage. Time alters everything and since his conviction, the power
dynamics have changed in Mashonaland West making it an unenviable task for
the dollar man — because just like Mugabe who once banished him for leaking
politburo meetings to the South African government for a fee of course,
urban voters do not forget fast and easily.

Still in Mugabe’s home province, former journalist Kindness Paradza is back
in the crease and hopefully with a sting that will exonerate his treacherous
switch from Zanu PF to join Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn in 2008.

In Mbare, Zanu PF politburo member Tendai Savanhu is set to lock horns with
Eric Knight, a former radio announcer.

Chipangano might have made Mbare a no-go area in the past four years but
voting is a secret event — where the electorate has a chance to secretly
dump tormentors. With all his money, Savanhu is likely to lose in Mbare
unless he plays hardball as he is accused by his comrades in Zanu PF of
having done during the party’s rigged primary elections.

The surname Ushewokunze conjures memories of a liberation hero Herbert, but
few have ever heard about his son Abicia who is running against Elias
Mudzuri in Warren Park. The famous surname aside, Abicia is unlikely to
dislodge Mudzuri and what more it is an urban constituency where the MDC is
stronger than Zanu PF.

Still in an urban setting MDC heavyweight Tapiwa Mashakada might be counting
his blessings after he was drawn against Ace Lumumba Matanje a political
nonentity. Godwills Masimirembwa, is seeking to silence disc
jockey-turned-politician James Maridadi, and what a mammoth task for the
Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) chairperson given that Zanu
PF is unpopular in Harare.

Still with mining but this time on diamonds, Marange Resources boss Tshinga
Dube will have to make diamonds shine in Mokokoba where he will slug it out
with persons like Gorden Moyo and representatives from the Welshman
Ncube-led MDC. Ever bungling at the Zimbabwe Warriors Trust where he is the
boss, it is doubtable that Dube will be able to squeeze a win in a
constituency that dumped Zanu PF over a decade ago.

Apart from being a businessman of note, Dube has links to the security
sector which in the pending polls is epitomised by police spokesperson
Oliver Mandipaka.

Flagrantly breaking the Police Act, which prohibits serving officers from
partaking in elections, Mandipaka hopes to ride on the police badge and win
the Buhera West constituency against MDC’s Jaison Matewu.

Perhaps Harare is no longer a safe bet for Hubert Nyanhongo who decided to
dump his Harare South constituency seat, opting to go for Nyanga North where
he will fight, probably tooth and nail, against MDC spokesperson Douglas
Mwonzora who relishes the chance to silence the noisy Zanu PF lawmaker oops
ex-lawmaker since Parliament expired yesterday.

Across the mountains in Nyanga South, radio personality and former
affirmative action chief Supa Mandiwanzira, will be tackling Willard
Chimbetete, a subdued person by any stretch of the imagination.

Riding on free coverage from his own radio, Mandiwanzira hopes that the
electorate will dump Chimbetete in support the rare fresh blood flowing in
the veins of a worn out party that is in urgent need to reform itself.

Despite several charges hanging ominously on his head, former warriors’
fitness trainer and controversial businessman Temba Mliswa is back in the
mix and with all his energies focused on Hurungwe West against a relatively
unknown quantity Wilson Makanyaire, who is the provincial secretary for MDC
in Mashonaland West.

In the middle of Zimbabwe just like elsewhere, war drums are beating
feverishly towards showdown not between MDC and Zanu PF but also between
Zanu PF factions. Little known personalities, political wise that is, like
former Premier Soccer League boss Tapiwa Mashingaidze are rubbing shoulders
with tried veterans like Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa as they plot an
MDC rout in Midlands. No doubt, the balance of power in Chirumanzu-Zibangwe
favours Mnangagwa, after  all the constituency was created specifically for
him following successive defeats to the MDC in Kwekwe urban.

But there is no such certainty for Matangaidze, who runs a beer outlet on
the periphery of Harare CBD.

The former PSL boss, who failed as a football administrator, is unlikely to
excel in politics even as an MP for Shurugwi South, having presided over the
domestic league that was fraught with blunders.

In Masvingo province Tongai Muzenda, son of the late vice president Simon
Mzenda, though unknown and reserved, might fancy his chances as he is
succeeding a Zanu PF comrade and will also be riding on his father’s

He however, faces a stern test from Philip Bohwasi who is hoping that Gutu
West will join other constituencies and show Zanu PF the exit door. Fred
Moyo, a well- travelled mine engineer  and former director for Wankie
Colliery, believes he can find a safe landing in Zvishavane- Runde
constituency after being fired from the mining giant probably due to
political factionalism in Zanu PF.

Before grabbing the ticket to represent the party in the forthcoming polls,
Moyo was in political wilderness and somehow managed to floor Emmerson
Mnangagwa’s right-hand man, Larry Mavima in the party’s primary polls. He
will however, have to deal with Clever Bhoko, another unpopular politician
trying to get a chance this year. By Thursday a number of Zanu PF seats in
Mashonaland Central and Midlands were still unclear as to who will represent
the party in the forthcoming polls.

Only two constituencies had names of those contesting candidates known in
Mashonaland Central while 12 constituencies had known candidates in Midlands
out of 25 constituencies. It was however, not clear as to why these
constituencies had no known candidates raising suspicion that it could have
been fuelled by factionalism in the former ruling party.

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A closed door – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 29th June 2013 

1.     Knocking on Embassy door

2.     Tree of Hope    

1.     Southwark Cathedral

2.     Vigil in the sun today


Exiled Zimbabweans symbolically knocked on the closed door of the Zimbabwe Embassy in London in protest at the refusal to give the diaspora a vote in the coming elections. We are being denied a basic human right – one in which we are supported by the African Union.


The demonstration on Thursday 27th June marked the fifth anniversary of the abortive presidential run-off which enabled Mugabe to bludgeon his way back into State House. The demonstration was organized by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), the successor to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, under the banner of ‘Never Again’ to a repeat of the terrible events of 2008.


Apart from Vigil, ROHR and Zimbabwe We Can supporters, there were also representatives of trade unions and Amnesty International among groups joining us in calling for free and fair elections that comply with SADC standards – a goal which seems increasingly unobtainable given Mugabe’s persistent failure to honour his promises of reforms.


Although Thursday was a working day, it did not surprise us to find that the Embassy was sealed up against the world. Perhaps it was because they get to hear of our protests. Anyway, we are accustomed to a closed door.


Centrepiece of the demonstration was a stark ‘tree of hope’ (made by Mark Beacon of ACTSA) on which was hung messages wishing for free and fair and non-violent elections written on red paper roses by people who had called at our regular Saturday Vigil. The tree was taken to Southwark Cathedral after the demonstration and installed there by the Sub-Dean, Canon Bruce Saunders, who led us in prayers for peace and justice.


Father Saunders explained the Cathedral’s strong links with Zimbabwe and told us prayers for Zimbabwe in the election period were to be said in all churches in the Southwark diocese. He showed us a  map of Zimbabwe on the wall of the Cathedral incorporating earth and artifacts from home. We were touched when we left to see a young girl already filling out a message for our tree of hope.


On our way by bus to Southwark Cathedral an article in the London Times by their regular columnist former Conservative Party MP Matthew Parris was passed among supporters. Headlined ‘Mugabe – a great warrior and, yes, a great leader’, it caused universal shock.  ‘Was he paid by Mugabe?’ one supporter asked.


Matthew Parris, who was educated in Zimbabwe, speculated in his column about Nelson Mandela’s final resting place and went on to speak of Rhodes’s grave in the Matobo National Park. He says: ‘When the time comes, even as a sort-of white Rhodesian, I should like to see Mugabe’s memorial alongside Rhodes in that sacred place. I know the President is from the Mashona people, historic foes of the Matabele. I know Rhodes did many cruel things, dispossessed and killed many people and cheated Chief Lobengula unforgivably. But still, for his restless and unbounded energy, for his vast achievements and for his almost limitless vision, I would call Rhodes’s a great life. 


‘Exit half my readers. Now to alienate the other half.  I know Robert Mugabe has made some terrible mistakes, brought his country for a while close to ruin and been associated with the murder of many Matabele people. But still, for his tremendous ambition, his long fight against overwhelming odds, and his deliverance of his people from submission to another race, he deserves the name of both warrior and leader, and I would call his a great life. 


‘Great men may do brutal things. History is shaped by complicated people, their greatness seldom uncompromised, their nobility tangled with infamy, their wisdom with folly. For good or ill and usually both, they stamp indelibly their age and their country, and we can respect without always approving. I should one day like to see Cecil John Rhodes and Robert Gabriel Mugabe side by side in that awesome place.  In this there might be, as Nelson Mandela above all other Africans would recognise, something like a reconciliation.’


Yes, the Vigil agrees there is something ‘awesome’ in the idea of burying the Gukurahundi butcher of 20,000 Ndebeles in the Ndebele ‘sacred space’ – but not in the sense Parris means. Over the years the Vigil has chronicled his idiotic comments on Zimbabwe which seem to follow his regular holidays there. (One way of paying for them!) See vigil diaries of 11/01/2011 and 18/04/2012 –


The warm sunshine seemed to empower us at the Vigil today. Regular supporter Peter Sidindi condemned African leaders for being taken in by Mugabe’s revolutionary posturing when he was exactly the opposite of a freedom fighter. Ephraim Tapa, leader of ROHR and the We Can Movement said that as from today we were without a parliament and without reforms ahead of the coming elections . . . in other words facing a closed door. 


Other points

·         Thanks to those who attended the ‘Never Again’ protest, namely Arnold Magwanyata, Cephas Maswoswa, Charles Dumisani Ndlovu, David Kadzutu, Dennis Benton, Eric Eluwasi, Eugenia Mushonga, Manyara Matandaware-Ngwenya, Mary Eluwasi, Netsai Makarichi, Nkosikona Tshabangu, Persuade Ziki, Rose Benton, Rosemary Maponga, Sandura Ncube, Tino Mashonganyika. Some came from as far afield as Birmingham, Colchester and Southampton. We were glad to be joined by Marga Knorr of Beyond Violence who came to last week’s Forum to talk about ways we could work together.

·         For pictures of Thursday’s demonstration taken by Paul Davey, check:


For latest Vigil pictures check: Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website – they cannot be downloaded from the slideshow on the front page of the Zimvigil website.


FOR THE RECORD: 49 signed the register.



·         ROHR Leicester branch meeting. Saturday 6th July from 1.30 – 4 pm. Venue: Woodgate Resource Centre, 36 Woodgate, Leicester LE3 5GE. Contact: Enniah Dube 07403439707 (Chairperson), Pardon Gurupira 07427382599 (Vice Chairperson), Bryan Mashonganyika 07450547313 (Secretary).

·         ROHR Slough branch meeting. Saturday 13th July from 1 – 5 pm. Venue: Upton Lea Community Hall, Wexham Road SL1 5JW. Contact: Grace Nyaumwe 07850 284 506, Patricia Masamba 07708 116 625.

·         Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 20th July from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. The Strand is the same road as the Vigil. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a big sign high above and a sign for its famous Indian restaurant at street level. It's next to a newsagent. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.

·         ROHR North East Region Zimbabwe Day Fundraising Event. Saturday 27th July from 1 – 8 pm. Venue: Benton Community Centre, 17 Edenbridge Crescent, Benton, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne NE12 8EP. Food, drink & entertainment. Contact Givemore Chitengu 07912747744, Kennedy Makonese 07979914429, Tapiwa Semwayo 07412236229, Collet Dube 07951516566. 

         Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2012 can be viewed on this link:  Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2012 Highlights page.

         The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents the views and opinions of ROHR.

         Facebook pages:

-         Vigil:

-         ZAF:

-         ROHR:

         Vigil Myspace page:

         Useful websites: which reports on Zanu PF abuses and where people can report corruption in Zimbabwe

         Contact details for Beyond Violence. Facebook:, Website:, Twitter:


Vigil co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.

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Of elections, border chaos CORRESPONDENT  •  29 JUNE 2013 8:40PM

BEITBRIDGE - The mobile network signal drops as you get to the border gate,
a sign that you are entering foreign territory.

“Thank you for choosing MTN,” says an electronic voice message from the
mobile phone network.

“If you wish to stay connected, select the roaming service of your choice.
Have a nice journey to Zimbabwe.”

It’s a typical wintry morning at the South African side of the Beitbridge
Border Post. There is a queue of about 30 people. Soon, three buses from
Johannesburg enroute to Harare and Bulawayo arrive.

Suddenly the queue is snaking along the border fences.

The people are talking about everything from robbers in Johannesburg, nice
cars cruising the carpet-like roads of the city and of course, the price of
groceries they buy for resale back home.

After a while, some in the queue start complaining about the slow pace of
business at the border. Eventually, the discussions take a political twist.

“Zimbabwe will be fine and we won’t need to go through this again,” said a
man in the queue.

The discussion is briefly interrupted by a South African immigration officer
who passes by to control the snaking queue.

Appetite for the political subject is growing among the crowd but many are
speaking in hushed tones for fear of saying the “wrong” things in public.

“Things need to change in our country, we don’t enjoy all these hassles”,
said a vocal woman in the queue who was among the most outspoken.

“We wish we could get everything at home especially jobs and we won’t need
to live a life on the road.”

She has been journeying to South Africa for the last four years to buy goods
for resale back home.

“I have a family of four boys and one girl and their father died. I am both
the father and the mother of my children and have no option but to live on
the road to make ends meet but if I get something better to do I will stop
doing this,” she said as she was rubbing her palms to try ward off the
biting chilly weather.

As the queue moves slowly towards the passport stamping desks, a pregnant
woman walks up to ask for preferential treatment at the head of the queue.
She gets a rude response from a South African immigration officer on duty.

“This is not a maternity ward, please go and join the queue,” barks the
immigration officer in an authoritative and harsh tone.

The woman walks back. But after a while, this time accompanied by two other
women, they try to plead her case for special treatment.

She is visibly in pain but the immigration officer would not have none of
it. Suddenly the woman collapses, and the female immigration officer is
jerked into action, scrambling to assist her.

“I don’t want people here, I am trying to deal with this mess and you are
already causing some more mess,” she yells at the many Zimbabweans in the

“I can close this border now if you don’t go back onto the queue.”

The collapsed woman is eventually taken to a border first aid room for

But her appalling treatment at the hands of South African immigration
officers elicited an angry reaction from the crowd.

“We might be facing problems in our country but these people have no right
to treat us like this,” said a visibly angry elderly man.

“This woman is pregnant and it was a simple thing of allowing her to stamp
her passport and go.”

In the meantime, several touts who work in cahoots with the police and the
immigration officers are shunting up and down, hand-holding those wishing to
jump the queue for a fee, where they are easily served.

There are touts everywhere on the border and they ask for anything between
R20 to R100 to jump the queue.

Inside the immigration hall, a woman who had overstayed in South Africa by
two days, is slapped with a R1 500 fine.

The service inside the immigration hall is painstakingly slow. It’s taking
the officers about five minutes to clear a single person and occasionally
they talk on their phones and exchange pictures and other stuff while
Zimbabweans wait patiently.

One man who could no longer stomach their behaviour expresses his
displeasure. But he is answered in a way that one could not have imagined.

“Hey, hey, I am dealing with Zimbabweans; you want me to just let criminals
pass through the border?” the immigration officer shoots back.

“You won’t tell me how to do my job, this is South Africa and we vet people,
we don’t just stamp people’s passports like in Zimbabwe, here we catch
criminals.” Most of the people in this morning queue have already endured
three hours of waiting to cross the border into Zimbabwe.

“All this can end if we make things right at home,” another man in the queue
interjects, joining into the hot conversation at the border.

“If we don’t participate in elections, then it means this suffering shall
continue. These South Africans have their own way of holding their
government accountable, we ought to play our part and go and vote to make
things better.”

Everyone here recalls of the 2008 political violence that saw many of them
fleeing to South Africa. They argue about who is right between President
Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

While they are all agreed that the country needs a stable government to
guarantee a return to the good old days, for those travelling the opposite
direction into South Africa, things were even worse.

They have to endure an unofficial screening exercise where some people are
asked to prove that they had enough funds to look after themselves while in
South Africa, a requirement that had been scrapped.

But now the South Africans are gradually introducing requirements of the
past for Zimbabweans wishing to enter South Africa like proof of funds, a
sign that they might just be starting to shut the door on Zimbabweans as
elections draw closer.

In 2008 South Africa had to deal with an unprecedented humanitarian crisis
as thousands of Zimbabweans crossed the Limpopo River fleeing economic and
political meltdown back home.

Meanwhile, a group of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) officials swoop on
the travellers urging them to register to vote.

Reluctantly one of the female cross border travellers accepts a Zec brochure
but before they walk off to the next guest, she drops it down and muses:
“This won’t change anything in my life.” The wind sweeps the Zec brochure

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‘Time for a fresh start’
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says a new Zimbabwe that guarantees social
development, justice and fairness is in sight when a people-centred
government sweeps into power in a few months.

Speaking to party structures in Umzingwane and Gwanda, Friday, Prime
Minister Tsvangirai said Zimbabweans needed a fresh start only guaranteed by
a government with clear development policies.

“The choice is clear, if you think we need a new start and progress you will
vote for the social democratic party, the MDC, a party with a social
conscience. We have to break from the failure of the past,” the Premier

He said it was unfortunate that despite being endowed with vast resources,
Zimbabweans were still living in poverty due to corruption promoted by the
former Zanu PF administration.

“We just need a God-fearing leadership, we cannot allow State sponsored
violence on our own people” the Premier said.

“Our government will fight corruption. Proper use of the resources we have
will ensure development in all areas. The anti-corruption commission will be
strengthened and given arresting powers,” the Prime Minister said.

Among other things the Premier said his government will focus on include
improvement in social services including clinics in rural areas, education,
rehabilitation of infrastructure, creation of employment and the rolling out
of drip irrigation in every ward to ensure food security. The Premier said
10% of the national budget would be used to finance drip irrigation
countrywide to ensure rural transformation.

The Premier is on tour of Matabeleland provinces meeting MDC structures and
other stakeholders ahead of the watershed elections.

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